Today, I continue my friendship with Julie. Our paths have diverged, the weekly coffee dates have ceased, and the opportunities to see her are few and far between. But she is not far from my heart nor have my prayers ceased.
Finding My God-Given Voice
I wish I could say God instilled in me a fresh boldness to share his good news and Julie is now a Jesus-follower just like me. I can't. I'm still patiently desperate to see her discover the joy of following Jesus and my confidence in God on the matter ebbs and flows.
But Julie taught me not to allow myself to get comfortable in simply tolerating a soul that's far from God. In a revealing conversation with a dear neighbor this week, I found myself again hiding behind lazy, apathetic, fearful acceptance. Would I paint myself into a religious corner in her mind? Would she shove me into her narrow preconception of evangelical Christians? Would I alienate a woman I respected and cared deeply about?
But this time, memories of my missteps with Julie challenged me to use my God-given voice to proclaim his love and be honest about my struggles with doubt instead of ignoring my neighbor's questions on faith. I don't know if my bold words will eventually help her know Jesus in a fresh way, but I know I did not hide.
Moments of regret about Julie frequently remind me to persevere in allowing my heart to be filled with compassion for those who are far from God. It's human nature to protect myself from the ugliness of an eternity without God. But I've discovered how sacred it is simply to ask for a soft and courageous heart to share Christ's radical acceptance with the friends I love.
Esther Feng lives in New York with her husband and their two elementary-aged daughters. She's been published in Gifted For Leadership, Thriving Family, Connections, P31 Woman, and various online publications. www.estherfeng.com.